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Spotlight On Our Patient Representative Team

Patient Representative Team

While elevating the experience of frustrated families is the responsibility of every employee of Cook Children’s, it is the entire focus of the Patient Representative team, who transform things gone wrong into opportunities to impress.

The Patient Representative team works with administrators, doctors, nurses, social workers, unit and department managers and medical directors to resolve problems or concerns. Their goal is to ensure patients and families have the most positive experience possible at Cook Children’s. They provide support, clarity and an important bridge that allows patients to focus on getting well. The team provides reassurance to families that the patients’ best interests are our goal.

Studies have shown negative experiences present hospitals with unique opportunities.  Families who believe they have been listened to empathetically after encountering challenges can become more loyal to a hospital than other families who experienced no problems throughout an entire visit.

The Patient Representative team (Reagan White, Lauren Simpson, and Hugo Busane) strive to make such outcomes a reality for families at Cook Children’s, and they want to share ways others can improve patient satisfaction as well.  Walking into a room to try turning frustration into loyalty may feel like a leap into the dark, but it is as easy as Listening, Empathizing, Acknowledging, and Problem Solving (LEAP).

Improving communication is the starting point for promoting patient satisfaction, and nothing works better than making parents feel heard.   Active listening is the key.

Active listening begins when you stop thinking about how you’re going to answer someone while they’re still talking. If you fall into that trap, your attention is on what you intend to say rather than what they are saying.  Clearing your thoughts and looking people in the eye will help them know you are interested in hearing them. As the team says, treat the person before you treat the problem. 

Connect by relating human to human. Once you have really heard what families have to say, you have already done a lot to create an emotional connection.  Connecting with people is the source of real empathy.  Try finding out more about what led up to that moment for this family.  Were they running late?  Having trouble finding where they needed to be?  Try imagining what it would feel like to be in their shoes, and you’re on the road to empathy.

If they believe there was a service failure on our part, acknowledgement and problem solving may be in order.  You do not need to accept blame for what happened, but you should acknowledge their experience, and be empathic.   You may not know what really happened yet, but you can still assure families it will be addressed. If they require further follow-up, connect them with a unit based leader or a Patient Representative.  Together we can effectively collaborate to turn a dissatisfied customer into a satisfied and loyal customer.

Beyond working directly with families having problems in reactive fashion, Patient Representatives are becoming increasingly proactive, rounding when time allows, and visiting families facing challenges before bigger problems emerge.  Alerting your leaders or a Patient Representative early on to a family that might benefit from a visit can help everyone involved.

Patient Representatives are also a resource for staff. They act as crisis intervention responders who develop a plan in conjunction with providers/manager/staff when dealing with upset family members. We also provide guidance to leaders and frontline staff about how to effectively communicate with families. We collaborate with clinical and non-clinical staff to gain that “trust” back from patients and families when a service recovery opportunity presents itself. We all work together with the best intentions for the patient and family to have a good experience. Together we can make sure patients get the best care possible.

Join the Patient Representative team as they work to assure we make the right thing happen for families and children seeking care at Cook Children’s. Let’s all work to elevate each person’s experience.